Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Watching the testosterone crash in anxious men who lose a contest.

This work from Maner et al. makes a rather blunt point:
Although theory suggests a link between social anxiety and social dominance, direct empirical evidence for this link is limited. The present experiment tested the hypothesis that socially anxious individuals, particularly men, would respond to a social-dominance threat by exhibiting decrements in their testosterone levels, an endocrinological change that typically reflects pronounced social submission in humans and other animals. Participants were randomly assigned to either win or lose a rigged face-to-face competition with a confederate. Although no zero-order relationship between social anxiety and level of testosterone was observed, testosterone levels showed a pronounced drop among socially anxious men who lost the competition. No significant changes were observed in nonanxious men or in women. This research provides novel insight into the nature and consequences of social anxiety, and also illustrates the utility of integrating social psychological theory with endocrinological approaches to psychological science.

Figure: Change in testosterone level as a function of experimental condition (losers vs. winners) and social anxiety (1 SD above the mean vs. 1 SD below the mean). Results are presented separately for men and women. Change scores were standardized within each gender.


  1. OTOH, testosterone levels increased in socially anxious women who lost. IMO that's the most interesting finding here. Any ideas on what that means?

  2. I didn't go into the statistics in the fine print. Only the male effect was significant.

  3. Study delving into the discussion of testosterone really is quite educational and apparently it all boils down to the idea of achieving wellness in health-that it is indeed necessary to deal with our emotions positively in order to avoid negative results in our body. Disappointment, frustrations, and the likes can really be great source of stress but medical science does continue to present us the harmful effects of not being able to handle stress really well. Its a matter of diverting your mind from negative to positive. From sad to happy.